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Column: Outside the Lens gives people with intellectual disabilities the tools to create and live

In his work as an intern with San Diego’s new Media Makers program Outside the goal, Alan Brockington is thrilled to be able to hone his media skills. In addition to attending staff meetings and influencing the program, Brockington assists media educator Kevin Tung with the program’s introductory film analysis class.

But like everyone involved with Outside the Lens, a nonprofit dedicated to amplifying marginalized voices through film, photography and digital media, Brockington can’t talk about art without talking about life. . And he’s happy to say that Media Makers is improving it in this area as well.

“I’m learning to pay more attention to the schedule to be there. I’m learning to make good friends and be a lot more trustworthy, ”Brockington said in a recent Zoom interview with other members of the Media Makers team.

“I enjoy helping staff with various aspects of media education. Basically, I try to be there for them. I feel like they are my family.

Launched just last month, Media Makers is designed to bring the mind-expanding powers and opportunities of digital media training and education to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This new Outside the Lens program is the latest expansion of the group’s mission to help young people from underserved and under-represented communities tell their stories.

With Media Makers, the focus is on people between the ages of 18 and 25 who have dropped out of high school programs but are still keen to expand their skills and knowledge.

“Some of our attendees want to be in the media, and we support that,” said program director Lucy Eagleson. “But also, there are other skills that you can learn and take with you for any job. Work with a team. Planning and implementation. Planning. All of these experiences create an impact that goes beyond the artistic components.

Since the organization was founded 20 years ago, Outside the Lens has reached over 16,000 children through its weekly classes, after-school programs, summer sessions and workshops. Other projects included a photography workshop for young Syrian women and an intercultural exchange between students from San Diego and students from Thailand.

For media creators, Outside the Lens has partnered with the San Diego Regional Center to offer its first two virtual workshops, Tung’s Film Analysis Course, and a Photography and Editing Workshop taught by Jana McBeath.

“It’s going very well. Right from the start they asked very probing questions about what we would be talking about and how we would draw on their knowledge and skills to really understand what is going on in the process of making a movie, ”said Tung on his film analysis workshop, which covers scriptwriting, story structure and development, cinematography, production design, and sound and image editing.

“We talked about representation in the media. They don’t necessarily feel represented in the movies they watch, and we’ve had some really good, in-depth discussions about that. The general excitement of our participants was intoxicating.

Going forward, Media Makers intern Josh Bell is working on an animation program. And while Outside the Lens still doesn’t do in-person programming at its Liberty Station headquarters, staff are hoping to start offering in-person classes on several topics next year.

“It’s all about the person,” said Alisha Faith, Head of Client Services for Media Makers. “We are all about inclusion. We want to make sure that everyone has a voice and that they are able to use that voice. ”

Prior to launching Media Makers, Outside the Lens partnered with the California Arts Council and the Foundation for Developmental Disabilities to launch “[vis] capacity: training in the creative arts of voice and vision. “ The six-week program gave attendees like Brockington and Outside the Lens photography intern Ludivico Estrada III how to create a digital portfolio, how to display their work virtually, how to organize a virtual exhibition, and how to broaden their audience.

In addition to providing interns with tools and support, “[vis] capacity ”introduced them to a community of creators who were able to share their challenges and triumphs. This sense of community is also an important part of Media Makers’ mission to provide participants with the kind of creative, professional and social experiences they need to live the lives they want and to create art. that they like.

Brockington already has a vision for this.

“I’ve been creative since I was a little boy and want to be active in the media world,” said Brockington, 30, who is also a production assistant with Options for everyone, another California-based organization that provides education, career, and other support services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. “I want to create a very loving and understanding world. It’s my biggest dream.

For more information on the Media Makers program, send an email to: [email protected]


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